Antofagasta posts mixed production update - profits hostage to fortune of global commodity prices

Jake Cordell
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Antofagasta, the Chilean miner, said it is on course to meet cost and output targets
Antofagasta, the Chilean miner, said it is on course to meet cost and output targets (Source: Getty)

Metal production slipped at Antofagasta in the first three months of the year, as the FTSE 100 mining giant continued to cut costs and said it was on course to hit its output and spending targets for the year.

Revenues and profits, however, will depend on swings in commodity prices, which have proved a challenge in recent months.

The figures

Antofagasta produced 157,100 tonnes of copper in the three months to March - 7.3 per cent more than the same quarter last year, but down 7.5 per cent on the final three months of 2015.

Gold output, conversely, was 1.8 per cent higher than in the final quarter of 2015 as the firm found extra deposits at its Centinela mine, but down 1.2 per cent compared to 2015.

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Molybdenum production also slipped substantially to 1,700 tonnes from 2,800 tonnes between January and March 2015.

Net cash costs per pound of production came in at $1.37 (£0.94), down 4.2 per cent from $1.43 in the first three months of 2015.

Why it's interesting

Antofagasta shares have been some of the most volatile on the FTSE 100 this year.

In January they slumped to 346p a pop, before rebounding to 593p in March - a 71 per cent climb in nine weeks.

Antofagasta Antofagasta | mobile image

Copper prices, in particular, have been volatile, and although Antofagasta said it was on course to hit its cost and production targets, everything really hinges on how much cash it can get for its wares.

Despite a rally in April, copper prices, at $223 per pound, are still substantially off of last year's peak of $296.

What Antofagasta said

Ivan Arriagada, CEO of Antofagasta, highlighted that although the firm had made good progress on cutting costs, it was hostage to the fortune of global commodity prices.

Our cost savings programme is also benefiting our results, contributing to a fall in our net cash costs of 4 per cent and our guidance for the year remains unchanged.

Movements in the copper price over the quarter may suggest the market is beginning to stabilise. However, with price growth likely to remain subdued in the near term our focus continues to be on operating safely, efficiently and profitably.